Nik Sharma’s turmeric and lime mussel broth
I first tasted makrut lime leaves (also known as kaffir) in Bombay when I went to my friend Praphat’s home for dinner. Praphat’s mother, Sriwan, who is from Thailand, cooked us an elaborate meal made with fresh herbs and spices and the leaves of a makrut lime tree, which grew in her backyard. She would pluck the fresh leaves off her tree and toss them into hot oil, which she used to start a soup. Taking a page out of Sriwan’s book, I add makrut leaves to ghee, after infusing it with turmeric and ginger. Serve with a slice or two of buttered and toasted baguette. You can find makrut lime leaves in most Asian shops and in the international aisles of some supermarkets. This broth also works great with clams.
Makes 2 servings
ghee 1 tbsp, or nit’r qibe (see note)
shallots 135g, peeled and minced
garam masala 1 tsp
fresh turmeric root 5cm piece, peeled and cut into matchsticks
makrut lime leaves 4, preferably fresh
Kashmiri chilli 1 whole
tomato paste 1 tbsp
fresh ginger 5cm piece, peeled and cut into matchsticks
coarse sea salt 1 tsp
coconut milk 400ml
fresh lime juice 60ml
spring onions 2 tbsp, thinly sliced
Rinse the mussels under cold running water, scrubbing well to remove any grit. Keep on ice in the refrigerator while building the broth.
In a heavy medium stockpot, heat the ghee over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallots until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garam masala and turmeric root and cook for 1 more minute. Add the lime leaves and Kashmiri chilli and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the salt and the coconut milk, and then gently stir in the mussels. Cover the stockpot and cook until the mussels open, 12 to 15 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels. Stir in the lime juice and taste – add more salt, if necessary. Garnish the broth with the spring onions and serve immediately.
NOTE In this broth, the fresh turmeric root adds a beautiful golden colour, while the fresh ginger adds spiciness and texture. Both of them possess starch, which helps thicken the broth as it is heated. To maximise the impact of the aromatic ingredients, I heat them in a flavourful fat, such as ghee or, if you can find it, the Ethiopian spiced butter nit’r qibe. The coconut milk and mussels absorb these flavours as they cook. The addition of lime leaves and juice brightens the broth and counterbalances the heat.
From Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food (Chronicle Books, £26)
Signe Johansen’s radicchio, pink grapefruit and gorgonzola winter salad
Full of bold colours, textures and flavours, this is a super salad to try in the midwinter months when citrus fruits are at their best.
You can use dried grapefruit or orange “crisps” (shop-bought or homemade) instead of fresh grapefruit for an extra crunch, but juicy fruits really complete this dish.
radicchio 1 head
pink grapefruit 1
gorgonzola cheese a small wedge (I just go by eye)
toasted almonds a small handful
thyme leaves from 1 sprig
For the dressing
olive oil 2 tbsp
sherry or wine vinegar of choice 1 tbsp
wholegrain mustard 1 tsp
plain or acacia honey 1 tsp
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash the radicchio and either peel the leaves all the way off or give the head a rough chop.
Place the leaves in a shallow pasta bowl or on a dinner plate, then peel the grapefruit, slice the flesh (thickly enough that the slices hold their shape) and scatter it on top. Place little bites of gorgonzola around the salad. Scatter over the almonds and thyme leaves.
Mix the dressing ingredients together in a jam jar or cup (if using a jam jar, just seal and give it a really good shake to emulsify) and taste. I like a very punchy, vinegar-rich dressing for this salad but if you prefer a more traditional vinaigrette, simply add a spoonful or two more olive oil until you have the consistency and flavour you like.
Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad and keep any spare for dunking bread into.
From Solo: The Joy Of Cooking for One (Bluebird, £16.99)
Gill Meller’s roast pork and crackling with apples, fennel seed, sage, lemon and thyme
What are apples without pork? And pork without crackling? Perfect crackling relies on the pork skin to be exceptionally dry. Take the pork out of its packaging as soon as you can, thoroughly dry the skin with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel, then leave it uncovered in the bottom of the fridge for at least 24 hours (48 hours would be better).
Make sure the skin is scored properly, down through to the fat (of which there should be some) and salt it only as it goes in the oven, not before.
pork loin about 2kg, scored and tied
red onion 1, cut into 8-10 wedges
apples 8 small, such as Coxʼs
lemons 2, sliced into 5mm rounds
sage 1 small bunch, leaves picked
bay leaves 8
thyme 1 small bunch
fennel fronds a handful, if available
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fennel seeds 2 tsp, lightly bashed
olive oil 2 tbsp
Heat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8, or as hot as your oven will go. Place the pork (with its very dry skin – this is really important as we want it to crackle) on a suitably sized roasting tin. Season all over with salt, then place in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes. Once the crackling is looking good, remove the pork and turn the oven down to 190C/gas mark 5 .
Scatter the red onion wedges over the base of a large, clean ovenproof dish. Carefully lift the pork from the hot roasting tin and set it down on top of the onions.
Place the whole apples around the pork, arrange the lemon slices in between them, scatter over the sage leaves, bay, thyme and fennel fronds (if using), and season well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the crushed fennel seeds and trickle everything with the olive oil.
Place the fragrant pork and apples in the oven and cook for a further 35 minutes, until the pork is cooked through and the apples are soft but not collapsing. (It’s worth noting that if the apples look like they are going to collapse, you can take them out of the oven and allow the pork to finish cooking without them.)
Remove the pork dish from the oven and allow the meat to rest in a nice, warm place for 10-15 minutes. Serve everyone a few thick slices of pork, some generous strips of crackling, an apple and some lemony, herby juices.
From Time (Quadrille, £25)
Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s roasted duck legs with clementines and apricots
This should be the centrepiece for your next Christmas meal, it looks so festive and wintery. The apricots will soak up all the lovely duck juices, the skin will crisp and the whole thing will make you want to snuggle by the fire.
Don’t be intimidated by duck. This is the simplest thing to cook and really excellent for entertaining as it will not dry out, and can also be made in advance and reheated to serve. The only thing to take into account with this recipe is that the duck legs need to be salted before cooking: a day ahead, if you can, or at least 6 hours as a minimum.
Dinner for 6-8
duck legs 8
For the salt rub
table salt 2 tbsp
ground cinnamon 1 tsp
ground coriander 1 tsp
freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp
ground ginger 1 tsp
onions 2, peeled and cut into wedges
clementines 2, quartered
dried apricots 150g
bay leaves 2
star anise 2
Mix the salt rub ingredients together and sprinkle over both sides of the duck legs. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but ideally about 24 hours.
Heat your oven to 220C/gas mark 7 and place the duck legs in one layer in a deep roasting tray. Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the skin starts to colour. Carefully drain off the fat (you can keep it to roast some potatoes on another day – it lasts for ages in the fridge).
Add the onion wedges and clementines to the tray, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove the tray again, add the apricots, bay leaves and star anise, and then pour over enough water to reach just halfway up the duck legs (you may need a little more or a little less than 600ml, depending on the size of your tray).
Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/gas mark 4.
Cover the tray, return to the oven and cook for another 40 minutes.
Remove the cover and check the liquid level – it should still reach about halfway up the legs. Baste all over, re-cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Remove the cover, baste again and return to the oven for 15 minutes, before basting one last time. Push any apricots into the liquid so that they don’t burn, then cook for a final 15 minutes to finish crisping up the skin.
From Honey & Co At Home: Middle Eastern Recipes From Our Kitchen (Pavilion Books, £26)
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